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Confronting Aristotle's EthicsAncient and Modern Morality$
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Eugene Garver

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226283982

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226284019.001.0001

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The Ethical Dimensions of Aristotle's Metaphysics

The Ethical Dimensions of Aristotle's Metaphysics

Chapter:
(p.164) Chapter 6 The Ethical Dimensions of Aristotle's Metaphysics
Source:
Confronting Aristotle's Ethics
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226284019.003.0007

This chapter shows the profound metaphysical character of the idea that the moral virtues are political virtues, since we are forced to think about human nature and activity, and the place of humans in the cosmos. Happiness and virtue create their own enabling conditions, the conditions under which they can be successful. Since virtues become second natures, we need to know about their mode of reproduction. The virtuous person replicates himself through political activity, through developing conditions in which virtues can flourish. Leading a good life therefore depends on knowing the place of people in the universe. A sign of the distance between Aristotle's world and ours is that readers today impute to Aristotle such anachronisms as natural law or metaphysical biology. Instead, the examples of perfect activity at Metaphysics IX.6.1048b23–25—seeing, understanding, thinking, living well, and being happy—are all either uniquely human or shared between people and gods. Human practical activity completes the Metaphysics and the cosmos.

Keywords:   metaphysics, moral virtues, political virtues, human nature, cosmos, happiness

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